It's a Sunday evening. It's cold. It's dark. I pull into a parking spot in the church parking lot in my Saturn and I just sit there. I'm wondering if even 20 people will show up for the hour-long worship service. But tonight, I'm the sound guy and tonight I have a job to do.
Walking into the sanctuary, I quickly surmised the setup will be simple. Two guitar channels, three vocal channels, and one piano channel…10 minutes of prep work, tops.
I noticed the band had set up microphones with stands, but nothing for the guitars. I thought to myself "I'm glad they set up some of the stuff for the evening, every little bit helps." I gave a simple "hey-how-you-doing" nod of the head to one of the guitarists and then said "I'll grab the cables for the guitars and a few DI boxes."
Now at this point, I'm running on cruise control. Stage setup is part of the job and I've done it so many times that sometimes I don't even remember doing it once I walk off the stage. But this evening, something different happened. This evening, I stopped in my tracks on the stage.
When the words came from the guitarist's lips, I first thought he was kidding. Then he repeated it as if he was serious.
"We don't need our guitars amplified, just the vocal microphones for singing."
During the worship sets, everyone in the congregation sings along. I knew I'd have to run everything through the mixer. Otherwise, those instruments would be drowned out by the vocals.
My response to the guitarist started with the most eloquent words I could have ever spoken; "Well, um…"
This particular guitarist has always thanked me for my skill and talent as a sound guy so I was very surprised by his comment.
At this point, I politely explained that based on the situation, it would be best if I wired up the instruments. He then politely deferred to my suggestion and I grabbed the required gear.
The evening turned out to be a success on two levels; more people attended than expected and the band was mixed so the congregation could properly sing along.
I'm telling you this story because if I had not built up a good reputation as a sound guy, I would have argued the point or flat out conceded the point and after the service had to deal with people telling me "it was hard to sing because I couldn't follow the song."
There are 3 simple strategies to build your reputation as the sound guy:
1. Act professionally. The words you say, the way you act, and how you do your job contributes to your reputation. Much of this can be accomplished by staying focused. When you are focused, you turn on the right microphone at the right time. It might be best to give a bad example…a good example of what not to do; if you are running around the sanctuary feeling scatterbrained and come service time notice you forgot to label the mixer channels or turn on the floor monitors, you are not acting professionally.
2. Put in the Time. If you are known as someone who puts in the extra time to get everything ready on the stage and clean up after the service, you will be be seen as a dedicated person.
3. Talk with the Players. Check with the pastor before the service for updates to the schedule. Ask him if there are any props that you need to put on the stage (you might have to move them during the service). Talk with the worship team members and ask them during the morning rehearsal (or sound check) if everything sounds good in the monitors. Ask them after the service how it sounded. The point here is when you are in constant communication with everyone involved in the service; you are seen as "in the know."
4. [Bonus] Be Known as a Learner. When people ask you how you learned to be a sound tech, be able to honestly tell them you are always reading and learning the craft.
A person who acts professionally, is dedicated to their work, and is "in the know" has a good reputation.
What Have You Done To Improve Your Reputation With a Pastor, a Worship Team, or a Fellow Sound Tech?
Thought? Questions? Comments?